One of America's Few Official Sake Sommeliers Demonstrates High-Flavor, Low-Calorie Mixed Sake Drinks

The Art of Sake Cocktails

Thursday, January 16, 2014, 6:30 pm, at Japan Society


New York, NY – When used for cocktail infusions, sake can bring out flavor in fresh and surprising ways. But there are many more befits to mixing with Japan's inimitable spirit, according to certified sake sommelier Chris Johnson, one of the country’s foremost experts on sake.

"The flexibility you get from sake infusions allows for exciting, lower calorie, lower alcohol cocktails such as sangrias, coolers, juleps and martinis," Johnson told Wine Enthusiast Magazine. "You can also create complex and great tasting cocktails without using abundantly sweet ingredients."

In The Art of Sake Cocktails Certified, Johnson gives an insider’s look into how sake can add depth and body to cocktails, explaining the varieties of sake and demonstrating how to mix them into exquisite and artisanal creations. In the hands-on workshop, taking place at Japan Society Thursday, January 16, each participant will mix and enjoy several cocktails and receive a cocktail-making kit to take home.

Chris Johnson is an SSI-qualified sake sommelier. He works as a senior judge for the U.S. National Sake Appraisal and serves on the executive committee for Joy of Sake. In 1999, he came third in the first World Kikisake-shi (Sake Sommelier) Competition, beating off considerable Japanese competition, and was invited to be a judge at the second competition. Johnson first encountered sake when he traveled to Japan to work as an English language teacher some 20 years ago. Captivated by the culture and history of sake, he built up considerable experience in some of the best known restaurants in the U.S., including Bond Street. Chris is a regular visitor to Japan, and has spent time studying the outstanding techniques of many master brewers during his trips to breweries. He has recently taken a position as Sake Sommelier and Consultant at Cherry, a restaurant in New York, which boasts a line-up of 77 sakes.

Talking with Chopsticks New York, who called him a "self-made sake ambassador," Johnson explained how he rose to be one of America's only official sake sommeliers: "I’m self-educated, I guess that’s the best way to explain it. At the end of the day, there was no true sake education system... I want to get sake out to the public beyond Japanese restaurants, beyond Asian restaurants, and share it with as many people as possible. Sake is such an amazing product. It’s so diverse. You can drink it warm, hot, cold, ice cold, on the rocks, in cocktails. There are so many different ways, so many different expressions. You can pair sake with so many different cuisines."

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.

The Art of Sake Cocktails takes place Thursday, January 16, at 6:30 pm. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). Tickets are $65/$60 Japan Society members (includes cocktail ingredients, snacks, and cocktail-making kit). Participants must be at least 21 years old. Tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, at, or by calling the box office at 212-715-1258. For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.

Lecture Programs at Japan Society are generously sponsored by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Japan Airlines is the exclusive Japanese Airlines sponsor of Lecture Programs at Japan Society. United Airlines is the exclusive U.S. Airlines sponsor of Lecture Programs at Japan Society. Additional support is provided by Chris A. Wachenheim, and the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund.

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Media Contacts:
Shannon Jowett, 212-715-1205,
Kuniko Shiobara, 212-715-1249,

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